So I'm working on my first batch of homebrew--a moderately hopped red ale. I brewed it in early August, and bottled it two weeks ago. I have really enjoyed the entire beer making process and thought I'd share a few pictures from my bottling session.
Here is my beer, all 5 glorious gallons, in a oxygen-proof plastic container called a carboy. After primary fermentation was completed (took about 4 days), I transferred it here for secondary fermentation (for about 12 days). During secondary fermentation, the beer settles out and the remaining sediment separates and sinks to the bottom.
Step #1: I racked (transferred) the beer from the carboy to the bottling bucket using an auto-siphon. Using the siphon minimizes the the addition of oxygen, which is very bad at this stage in the beer making process.
After the beer is transferred, the dregs (sediment) remains at the bottom of the carboy. After primary fermentation was complete, there was MUCH more sediment than what you see here.
Step #2: Added a corn sugar solution to the beer in the bottling bucket. This enables carbonation once the bottles are capped.
Step #3: Transferred the beer from the bottling bucket to the bottles. Sorry, no pictures from this step. I was doing it alone and had to do it very quickly because beer was leaking out of the bottle filler. While this was the most tedious step, there was great joy in filling the bottles, even though it was slow. Here are the bottles waiting to be capped.
Step #4: This was my favorite step, capping the bottles (must be the worker in me). Sorry no pictures, but here is the end result--slightly more than two cases of bottled beer!
Step #5: THE MOST DIFFICULT STEP. Waiting. It takes a minimum of 10 days for the beer to carbonate. The longer the beer sits (conditions) in the bottles, the more the flavors "round out" and evolve. I was told to wait about a month or so. Again, longer is better. We'll see how long I can wait....